I’m sharing these 5 mistakes I made when I started blogging so you won’t make them too.
Becoming a blogger in any niche is no walk in the park. I made a ton of mistakes when I first started out. The important thing is that I learned from them and didn’t make them a second time. I’m sharing my best tips for new bloggers in this post.
There’s a plethora of information on the internet for new bloggers and even online courses you can buy. However, navigating this world on your own requires a ton of trial and error. I hope these tips will help all the new bloggers out there!
Mistake #1: Prioritizing Followers Over Purpose
This first lesson will be lengthiest because it’s the most important. Being a blogger/influence/etc. does not just mean you have a large following. It means you have a purpose you want to share. It means you have an audience that follows you for that purpose.
It’s hard not to compare your numbers to those who are in your niche. I also understand how frustrating it can be when your peers are growing faster than you. News flash: the IG algorithm has changed a lot over time and will continue to change. I’ve seen some accounts flourish through a new change and some accounts absolutely dwindle.
Don’t get down on yourself if you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock. Over the last 2 years, my Instagram has had at least 3 periods of time where I did not grow by more than 100 followers over a 4-month time span. Then suddenly my account would bounce back again. I was sometimes growing at a rate of 100 per day.
Unfortunately, people prioritizing followers leads to unfair behavior that ruins the community like buying followers. This means their account will be flooded with followers of “fake” accounts which are essentially bots. There is a lot of this activity out there so don’t stress out comparing yourself to everyone.
If you find yourself in this period of stagnancy, focus on your PURPOSE and how that SERVES your audience. The honest truth: Instagram and the blogging space is extremely over-saturated. This doesn’t mean there isn’t room for everyone at the table. However, you’re going to need to find something that sets you apart from other bloggers. With so many bloggers out there to follow, your audience wants something they can benefit from when following you. Start creating a COMMUNITY.
Mistake #2: Putting All My Eggs in the IG Basket
Once you’ve established your PURPOSE, it’s important to diversify your social channels. I had my Instagram for a year before creating a blog on WordPress. Then had my blog for a year before I started using Pinterest to drive my traffic. In hindsight I wish I had started all 3 at the same time. Most recently, I started using TikTok for my brand and wish I hopped on that train earlier as well.
If you want to monetize your brand it’s risky to be putting all your eggs in one basket. Instagram won’t be around forever. The app could easily go away next year and you will lose everything you worked so hard to build. If you want something that is yours to own forever (and potentially monetize), you’ll want to invest in a blog.
I’m already seeing so many people migrate away from Instagram and over to Tik-Tok. I don’t know if this is something that will stick long term or is just a phase. However, it goes to show the power of social media and how nothing can be predicted.
Having a website is a great way to make money if that’s a goal of yours in blogging. I have written blog posts for brands in exchange for really good pay. It also helps as additional leverage when negotiating brand deals and pay rates for Instagram collaborations. If a brand knows they can get additional exposure on your website in addition to IG, they’re more likely to want to work with you.
Mistake #3: Undercharging For Collaborations
Now that you’ve built an audience and you’re ready work with brands, don’t forget your VALUE. I took me awhile to get over the thrill of accepting free product in exchange for my hard work. After that, I found myself settling for whatever the brand was willing to pay me (hint hint: it wasn’t a lot.)
You’ve probably heard about the penny per follower rule. This means if you have 10,000 followers, you should be charging $100. Over the last 2 years, I’ve learned to let go of this mindset and negotiate higher pay. Shooting a brand campaign takes an incredible amount of work, time and sometimes out of pocket expenses (ie: hiring a photographer or taking a taxi/Uber to your shoot location.)
There are calculators out there like this one that help you calculate what you should be charging based on your following and engagement. Don’t worry about staying within the range they give you. There’s nothing to be ashamed about when negotiating your pay rates.
If you really want to work with a brand but they can’t meet you at your desired rate, it’s ok to negotiate DOWN your deliverables instead. This could include less or no IG stories, not having to put a brand link in your bio, not giving up the licensing rights to your photos, etc. Go and get it girl!
Mistake #4: Not Signing a Contract
I was 6 months into working with brands in exchange for payment and still had never written a contract for any partnership. Then I had a deal with a brand (still no contract, mind you) and they neglected to pay my invoice. It was past the payment terms and I reached out via email and Instagram DM’s multiple times with no reply. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to start using a contract.
Fortunately, my blog is not my only source of income. I have a full-time job that fully supports me and my blog income is just extra “fun money”. However, I have so many friends in the industry that rely solely on their blog and brand partnerships. I could not imagine having a brand ghost me on a payment when I rely on that income to survive. After this happened, I shared my situation on my IG stories and had so many friends reach out to me saying this also either happened to them or someone they knew.
After sharing my experience on my IG stories, the brand responded to my messages the next day and paid me right away. (Not sure if they were watching my stories or what! I didn’t mention the brand name publicly or tag them.) While I was happy to be paid, this is not a brand I would ever work with in the future.
From then on I have always used a contract when payment is involved. I found a template online and use it for all my collaborations with a few modifications. In addition to it acting as the legally binding agreement for payment, it helps clearly state my deliverables, timeline for posting and payment terms. Now there is never any confusion between brands and myself on what they can expect and when.
Mistake #5: Not Charging For Photo Licensing
This is one that a lot of people don’t think about when they’re getting started. I didn’t even know this was a thing until I was a year into working with brands. I had missed out on so many monetization opportunities by then. This is one of the best tips for bloggers who want to make money outside of strictly posting to Instagram.
Yes, you can charge a brand for the licensing rights to the photos you create for them. If it’s not written in the contract you create for the deliverables you owe the brand, they legally cannot take your photo and use it for marketing purposes (ie: on their website, social channels, etc.) without your permission.
This is a great way to make additional money with any brand deal. I either tell the brand outright what I charge per specific image or I roll it into the total cost of my rate for all deliverables together.
You might be wondering how much to charge per photo, right? I’ll say in my experience that it varies depending on your experience and the quality of image. My photography has improved a lot over the last 2 years so I charge more today than I would have when I first started.
You may also want to consider how big the brand is that you’re creating content for. If you’re working with a global company that has a large following, they can afford to pay more than the small, local boutiques who don’t have a big marketing budget. Keep in mind that they will be taking YOUR image to make a profit for THEMSELVES. Be sure to charge accordingly. To give you a rough estimate of my range, I go between $50-$175 per image.
If you’re new on this journey, I hope you found this information helpful. Ensure you’re building your brand in the best way possible. You’re going to make mistakes along the way but learning from those as you move forward is the best way to grow!
Have any questions about getting started or have your own tips for new bloggers? Leave them in the comments below and don’t forget to check out my guide here on how to be an efficient content creator.